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Weimar Republic

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The republic of Germany formed after the end of World War I. On 9 November 1918 a republic was proclaimed in Berlin under the moderate socialist Friedrich Ebert. An elected National Assembly met in January 1919 in the city of Weimar and agreed on a constitution. Ebert was elected first President (1919–25), succeeded by Hindenburg (1925–34). The new republic had almost at once to face the Versailles Peace Settlement, involving the loss of continental territory and of all overseas colonies and the likelihood of a vast reparations debt, the terms being so unpopular as to provoke a brief right‐wing revolt, the Kapp putsch. The country was unable to meet reparation costs, and the mark collapsed, whereupon France and Belgium occupied the Ruhr in 1923, while in Bavaria right‐wing extremists (including Hitler and Ludendorff) unsuccessfully tried to restore the monarchy. Gustav Stresemann succeeded in restoring confidence and in persuading the USA to act as mediator. The Dawes Plan adjusted reparation payments, and France withdrew from the Ruhr. It was followed in 1929 by the Young Plan. Discontented financial and industrial groups in the German National Party allied with Hitler's Nazi Party to form a powerful opposition. As unemployment developed, support for this alliance grew, perceived as the only alternative to communism. In the presidential elections of 1932 Hitler gained some 13 million votes, exploiting anti‐communist fears and anti‐Semitic prejudice, although Hindenburg was himself re‐elected. In 1933 he was persuaded to accept Hitler as Chancellor. Shortly after the Reichstag fire, Hitler declared a state of emergency (28 February 1933) and, on Hindenburg's death in 1934, made himself President and proclaimed the Third Reich.

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